I had already published my first Cousin Connection when I met Diedre MacLean, I just didn’t know it yet. Diedre contacted me using Stories From the Past’s Tell Your Story form after she discovered several name matches from the same cemetery where Kathy, wife of my cousin Chuck, had discovered a connection to me. It was Diedre’s WordPress message that inspired me to create my Cousin Connection. If I could connect with Diedre through an online cemetery photo, I figured the possibilities were endless. There may be an end somewhere, but as long as there are ancestors yet to be found, I can keep telling stories for many years to come.
Diedre’s information came from word of mouth. Her grandmother shared her family’s history with her, as I am sure it was passed along from generation to generation. When Diedre shared the information with me, I could see that we did indeed have a solid match. I just needed to verify the information that matched our shared ancestor, so I started with Elenor Haskins, Diedre’s g-g-g-grandmother whom Diedre believed to be the daughter of our shared ancestors William Auckey Wyckoff and his wife Eleanor Van Mater. The first thing I found was her tombstone.
As I probed into FamilySearch data, and did a records search, I found discrepancies from the tombstone of Elenor [Wykoff] Haskins, and the Eleanor Wykoff listed as daughter to our shared ancestor. The first and last names matched, but the dates did not match the tombstone. I assumed the dates on the tombstone were correct. (They are written in stone.) I knew we had the right ancestor. After all, it would have had to have been an elaborate hoax on Diedre’s part, and really, what’s in it for either of us? We are, after all, complete strangers. So what was missing?
After further communication with Diedre, I was convinced that I did indeed have the right tombstone, but I was not convinced that I had found the right ancestor on FamilySearch. I began to rattle some bones. I surmised that Diedre was missing a generation in her family tree, so I began digging with the oldest male among William and Eleanor Wykoff’s thirteen children. He had a daughter named Elenor. Her husband’s name did not match. The next child was the daughter named Eleanor, so I skipped her. The third child and second son also had a daughter named Eleanor. but her husband, children, and death date did not match either. I was beginning to worry that I would have to search all thirteen of the Wykoff children before I found the right Eleanor. The third son was my g-g-g-grandfather Cyrenius. He didn’t have any Eleanors. Thank goodness. I found Diedre’s Eleanor with the fourth son Charles. I was right. Charles was the missing link and his wife’s name was
-wait for it-
-wait for it-
Eleanor! Obviously his wife was not the Eleanor Haskins I was looking for, but their daughter was.
So. William married Eleanor. They had a daughter named Eleanor. Their sons could not be named Eleanor so they named their daughters Eleanor. Charles, one of those sons, had a wife named Eleanor and they also named their daughter Eleanor. She married a Charles too, but they named their daughter Etta, who named her daughter Eleanor, and that Eleanor named her daughter Etta. That Etta was Diedre’s Grandmother. Confused? That’s why I make charts.
The exciting part in all of this for me, is not the first name of Charles Wykoff’s wife, but her maiden name which is the same as my grandmother’s. Diedre and I may have more in common than we thought.
In the end, Diedre and I are fifth cousins once removed. I am still a bit confused about the fact that Elenor Wykoff Haskins married a man named Charles and that her mother and father just happened to be named Eleanor and Charles as well. It’s not impossible that four individuals just happened to share given names with previously unrelated people, but I could not find corroborating evidence in the form of primary sources. The only thing proving FamilySearch’s information to be correct is that tombstone.
I solved one mystery, but that leads to other mysteries. Welcome to genealogy.
And welcome to my family, Diedre!